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Evils Of War Post by :jrwrestling Category :Essays Author :Lydia H. Sigourney Date :November 2011 Read :2890

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Evils Of War

"From whence come wars and fightings?" James, iv. 1.


You will perhaps say they have been from the beginning. The history of every nation tells of the shedding of blood. In the Bible and other ancient records of man, we read of "wars and fightings," ever since he was placed upon the earth.

Yet there have been always some to lament that the creatures whom God has made should thus destroy each other. They have felt that human life was short enough, without its being made still shorter by violence. Among the most warlike nations there have been wise and reflecting minds, who felt that war was an evil, and deplored it as a judgment.

Rome was one of the most warlike nations of the ancient world. Yet three of her best Emperors gave their testimony against war, and were most reluctant to engage in it. Adrian truly loved peace, and endeavoured to promote it. He saw that war was a foe to those arts and sciences which cause nations to prosper. Titus Antoninus Pius tried to live in peace with every one. He did all in his power to prevent war, and said he would "rather save the life of one citizen, than destroy a thousand enemies." Marcus Aurelius considered war both as a disgrace and a calamity. When he was forced into it, his heart revolted.

Yet these were heathen emperors. They had never received the Gospel, which breathes "peace and good-will to man." The law of Moses did not forbid war "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," was the maxim of the Jewish people. But the law of Jesus Christ is a law of peace. "I say unto you, that ye resist not evil," were the words not only of his lips, but of his example. His command to his disciples was, "See that ye love one another."

The spirit of war, therefore, was not condemned by the Jewish law, or by the creeds of the heathen. But it is contrary to the spirit of the Gospel.

Have you ever seriously considered the evil and sorrow of war? how it destroys the lives of multitudes, and makes bitter mourning in families and nations? You are sorry when you see a friend suffering pain, or a lame man with a broken bone, or even a child with a cut finger. But after a battle, what gashes and gaping wounds are seen, while the ground is red with the flowing blood, and the dying in their agony are trampled under the feet of horses, or covered with heaps of dead bodies.

Think too of the poverty and distress that come upon many families, who have lost the friend whose labour provided them with bread, upon the mourning of gray-headed parents from whose feeble limbs the prop is taken away; upon the anguish of wives for their slaughtered husbands; and the weeping of children, because their dear fathers must return to them no more.

All these evils, and many which there is not room to mention, come from a single battle. But in one war there are often many battles. Towns are sometimes burned, and the aged and helpless destroyed. The mother and her innocent babes perish in the flames of their own beloved homes.

It is very sad to think of the cruelty and bad passions which war produces. Men, who have no cause to dislike each other, meet as deadly foes. They raise weapons of destruction, and exult to hear the groans of death. Rulers who make war, should remember the suffering and sin which it occasions, and how much more noble it is to save life than to destroy it.

Howard visited the prisons of Europe, and relieved the miseries of those who had no helper, and died with their blessings on his head. Bonaparte caused multitudes to be slain, and multitudes to mourn, and died like a chained lion upon a desolate island. Is not the fame of Howard better than that of Bonaparte?

The religious sect of Friends, or Quakers, as they are sometimes called, never go to war. The beautiful State of Pennsylvania was originally settled by them. William Penn, its founder, would not permit any discord with the Indians, its original inhabitants. He obtained the land of them by fair purchase, and set the example of treating them with justice and courtesy.

In most of the other colonies there had been fearful wars with the savages. In ambush and massacre, the blood of the new-comers had been shed; and they had retaliated on the sons of the forest with terrible vengeance. Older States looked upon this proffer of peace as a dangerous experiment. They said, "These Quakers have put their heads under the tomahawk." But on the contrary, no drop of their blood was ever shed by the Indians in Pennsylvania. They gathered around William Penn with reverence and love. Rude warriors as they were, they admired his peaceful spirit. He explained his views to them with cordiality, and they listened to his words.

"We will not fight with you," he said, "nor shed your blood. If a quarrel arise, six of our people and six of your own, shall meet together and judge what is right, and settle the matter accordingly."

Subdued by his spirit of kindness and truth, they promised to live in peace with him and his posterity "so long as the sun and moon shall endure."

On his return to England, among the friends who gathered around the ship to bid him farewell, were groups of Indians with mournful brows, the women holding up their little ones, that they might have one more sight of the great and good man, whom they called their Father. Was not this more acceptable to Heaven than the din of strife, and the false glory of the conqueror?

So earnest was William Penn to convince his fellowmen that it was both their duty and privilege to live in peace, that he travelled into foreign countries for that purpose, using his eloquence, and knowledge of various languages with considerable success. Peter the Great, when studying the arts of civilization in England, was much interested by visits from this teacher of Peace, who conversed fluently with him in German. The young Czar listened with great attention and courtesy, while he unfolded his system. He then earnestly requested that it might be expressed for him in a few words, and William Penn wrote,

"Men must be holy, or they cannot be happy; they should be few in words, peaceable in life, suffer wrongs, love enemies, and deny themselves: without which, faith is false; worship, formality, and religion, hypocrisy."

The future Emperor of the Russians, though not a convert to the doctrine of the Quakers, regarded it with so much respect, that he repeatedly attended their meetings, evincing deep and interested attention. To his mind, the theory of peace seemed beautiful, yet he considered it impossible that wars should be prevented. He did not believe that contending nations could be made to settle their differences without an appeal to arms, or that their anger might be soothed by the mediation of a friendly people, as a good man makes peace between offended neighbours. It did not occur to him that a Christian ruler might mediate with the soothing policy of the patriarch Abraham to his wrathful kinsman:

"Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, or between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen, for we be brethren."


(The end)
Lydia H. Sigourney's essay: Evils Of War

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